West Church Ballymena’s £1.3 million church hall was opened by the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Rt. Rev. Dr. Frank Sellar.
And he expressed the hope that the new extension would enable the congregation to better fulfil their calling as “people of good news.”
West Church opened on the first Sunday of January 1863 to accommodate the large number of new Christians who came to faith during the Ulster Revival of 1859, when an estimated 100,000 people were ‘born again’.
To mark West Church’s 150th anniversary in 2013, the decision was taken to demolish the existing church halls and construct a new, purpose built facility thus enabling the church to better meet its needs in a practical way and allow the sharing of its life and witness as part of the community.
The new building has a social area that has integrated the church building itself, a bespoke crèche facility, along with meeting rooms and hall. Two light box installations, by internationally renowned local artist Ross Wilson, incorporate motifs from the Church’s famous West Window, and banners combining the artwork of the Sunday school children have also been hung.
Today the congregation has over 1,500 members of all ages and backgrounds, and has a long history as an integral part of the Ballymena community.
Minister of West Church since the year 2000, Rev. Daniel Kane said, “As an active and vibrant congregation in the town, we desire to be growing in spiritual fruitfulness as we reach out to our members and beyond with the transforming compassion of Jesus.
“As we open this new hall we want to celebrate God’s faithfulness and testify to the undiminished life-changing power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Since our spiritual DNA as a congregation is rooted in the glorious spiritual revival of 1859, we wanted to bring what is important from the past into the present, and this has been visualised through the artwork we commissioned from Ross Wilson to enhance our new facility.
“It’s great to celebrate tremendous blessings, which took place 150 years ago, but we are not people who live in the past and rely on our past experiences. As followers of Jesus we are people of the present with a rich heritage, but also with a glorious future. We have a living and up-to-date personal relationship with Jesus today – so we want revival to happen again in our lives as individuals, in our town and our land,” he said.
Speaking at the official opening, Dr. Sellar said, “As a flourishing congregation seeking to share the transforming power of Christ in their community, it is my hope that their magnificent new extension will enable them to better fulfil their calling as people of good news. As a congregation born through revival, I pray that West Church will continue to experience huge blessing as they seek to reach out in the power of the Holy Spirit.”